September 9, 2021
Statement on New Biden Administration Measures to Fight Covid-19

Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan network of state and district education leaders, today released the following statement.

The Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective—and they are what will finally end this pandemic. We commend the Biden Administration for requiring staff at all Head Start programs, Department of Defense schools, and Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools to get vaccinated, and we echo the president’s request that states require vaccines for their K-12 employees. The measures, announced today, follow Chiefs for Change Board Chair and San Antonio Independent School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez’s meetings with the Administration and Congress in which he urged bolder federal action on the vaccine. Martinez’s district implemented a vaccine requirement for employees, and he published this op-ed articulating his rationale for doing so.

We are pleased that the Biden Administration’s plan also includes a new grant program to provide additional resources to districts that have funds withheld by their state or are otherwise financially penalized for implementing strategies recommended by the CDC to prevent the spread of Covid. This again is an issue that has been raised by our members, including Phoenix Union High School District Superintendent Chad Gestson. We are grateful for the vital support pledged today by the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, we agree with the president’s call for districts to adopt regular Covid testing programs for students and staff, and appreciate the federal funding that has been provided to support such initiatives.

The Administration’s plan represents a very important step forward for our nation. As a bipartisan network of state and district education leaders, we now ask the federal government to provide the timeline for the FDA review of the Covid vaccine for children under the age of 12. Families and school staff want to know when all school-age children will be eligible for the shot—and the federal government should give clear information about what to expect. Relatedly, chiefs need assurances that there will be enough vaccine doses to meet the demand due to concerns about the Delta variant, the anticipated booster shots, and the new measures announced today.

Lastly, we ask federal, state, and local leaders; doctors and health professionals; and, indeed, all Americans to work with our chiefs to quickly vaccinate everyone who is eligible so that we can keep schools open and give our children the in-person learning and supports they so urgently need.